The Coventry Conundrum – Is The Top Tier Due For A Shake Up?

It’s now close to a fortnight since we learned which two teams will be joining the top tier of the British University game next season, with the Coventry Jets in the North, and the UEA Pirates in the South, each earning their place in the Premiership courtesy of regional titles earlier this month.

However, the geography of these teams meant many Uniball fans began to wonder whether the promotion of these two programmes could lead to a realignment in the top two conferences in the BUCS Leagues:

The three BUCS tiers are arbitrarily split into Northern and Southern halves, but the geographical divides tend to vary from one tier to the next, which this season resulted in something of an anomaly – the team promoted out of the Northern half of Division One is more southerly than a long-established team in the Prem South, and the Division One South promotee is strictly speaking more northerly than either of them!

The most common query we were hearing was whether, despite Coventry qualifying for premiership status out of the northern half of D1, might they instead find themselves aligned in the South, and the Lions be shunted across into the Premiership North – something that would represent a significant shake-up of the existing rivalries in the top tier!

Latitude of Premiership Teams
  • Stirling Clansmen (North): 56.1165°
  • Durham Saints (North): 54.7753°
  • Leeds Beckett Carnegie (North): 53.8008
  • University of Nottingham (North): 52.9548°
  • UEA Pirates (South): 52.6309°
  • Birmingham Lions (South): 52.4862°
  • Coventry Jets (North): 52.4068°
  • Swansea Titans (South): 51.6214°
  • Hertfordshire Hurricanes (South): 51.7518°
  • UWE Bullets (South): 51.4545°

However, newly appointed BAFA Commission Lead for BUCS American Football, Marcus Boswell, says chances are there’s nothing to worry about – the distances aren’t really vast enough to cause such a significant change to existing structures:

“Regarding the decision for Coventry University being promoted to either the Premier Tier North or South, the recommendation and provisional league structure BAFA will provide to BUCS will display Coventry in the Premier North for the 2019-20 season.

To my knowledge, there is no real precedent to realign BUCS Premier Tier teams in a manner not previously indicated within the BUCS Promotion and Relegation documentation.

Additionally, the distance to be travelled by both Coventry and Birmingham (as the other team in question) next season is not significant enough to warrant a change based on their geographical locations.

For those with continuing concerns, there is a consultation period for all leagues within the BUCS programme, and so institution administrators will be able to provide feedback over the summer as to whether they agree or disagree with the recommendation.

Players, specifically elected committee members, and coaches can no doubt feed into that decision per team through their administrators.”

As such, expectations are we won’t see any significant shakeups during the offseason – and after the amazing, topsy turvy top tier season we’ve just had, the top flight of the uni game is looking just as fresh and competitive as ever!

That said… how do you think Birmingham or UEA would fare if they were to find themselves in the Prem North next year?




Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1